September 29th, 2002
It strikes me that we seem to have far more information available to us now about up and coming new tales than we have in previous years. Much of this is due to the two handwritten notes concerning 'Triss' and 'Loamhedge'. Also much more information has been given by those with access to pre-release copies of 'Triss'. Before the release of 'The Taggerung' we knew of very few characters that would definitely appear in it: Sawney Rath, Nimbalo and the Taggerung. We did not even know the species of the first two and the latter's actual name was a mystery. However, this time round we know of far more characters in 'Triss': Triss, Welfo, Shogg, Lord Hightor, Lady Merola, Abbot Apodemus, Bescarum, Sagaxus, Kroova, King Agarna, Princess Kurda and Prince Bladd. There is little known about some of these characters, while others are quite well documented for pre-release information. This editorial aims to set the record straight on these various characters.
She is a squirrelmaid. She wields the sword of Martin. I believe that the sword looks set to have a major role in the tale. I would back this up by quoting what was said at www.redwall.org: "In this, the fifteenth novel in the Redwall epic, Brian Jacques once again looks to the history of the sword of Martin the Warrior for his adventure". The very same site describes Triss as "a new and unforgettable heroine". We are also told this: "Enslaved by the evil ferret King Agarnu of Riftguard, and his cruel daughter, Kurda, the brave squirrelmaid Triss plans a daring escape by sea." This would fit with both covers as they both show her travelling by boat at sea. However, most interestingly in my opinion we are told this: "when Triss comes to Redwall, and the inhabitants of the abbey find that they have a new champion - someone brave enough to carry the sword of Martin the Warrior and face the evil that threatens them all." This would suggest to me that she only receives the sword once she arrives at the abbey. A question begs to be asked: what is her weapon prior to that? To take the example of the most recent tale: 'The Taggerung; Deyna was able to wield the sword as he had been trained throughout his life to use knives and he had previously used Sawney Rath's knife. But Triss is a slave, and therefore seems unlikely to be used to using a weapon. It may just be like Matthias, who, as pointed out by Snowspine, was able to do battle using the sword of Martin, despite never having cause to wield a sword before in his life.
As one of Triss's companions we have a hogmaid by the name of Welfo. She is also a slave on Riftguard. Beside this we know very little of her. She does not seem set to be a central character, yet she may have some hidden importance that I have overlooked.
Completing the trio from Riftguard we have an otter, Shogg. We can assume he is not a sea otter, however, as there is a sea otter(Kroova) and we have not been told that Shogg is one. I would guess that he is the otter shown on the British/Canadian cover. He seems set to be similar to Welfo: on the sidelines.
Good news here is twofold; we have an abbot; he is a mouse. When I read about him I was quite pleased; he means there will most probably not be a storyline concerning an abbot or an abbess being appointed. I have nothing against such storylines, but I do not like storyline repetition. The fact that he is a mouse is a bonus; mice have not gone all together, evidently. Admittedly he does not look set to be a major character, but he is still a presence.
Lord Hightor and Lady Merola.
These two also look good; Salamandastrom has a ruling couple of badgers. This was done before in the time of Russano, though it was never used much. I believe that was a testing of the water, and that now it looks set to be put into full practise. If there is a siege of Salamandastrom, which seems a bit unlikely considering it has not yet been mentioned, it would provide an interesting situation. Having said that I think they would be interesting in any combat situation. It is currently unclear how important they will be. But if, as I suspect, they are parents, or even relations, to the badger below, then they look to have an important part in the story as a whole.
This is, without exception, the strangest name for a badger I have ever heard; his friend the hare is equally wierd by name. We can not tell a great deal about him however. I would guess Lord Hightor and Lady Merola are his parents, or some other relations, considering the fact that he comes from Salamandastrom. One might suggest that he is rebelling, but I think it is more likely that he is doing what Innbarr sets out to do in 'The Pearls of Lutra': experience the world. It would be easy to compare him to Mara but the chances are that he is completely different and that the parallels that may be drawn are completely superficial. It is important to note that no badger guardian has been mentioned in relation to the abbey; I believe this character may have some relation to this. I am not suggesting that he becomes a badger father necessarily, however, though that is still a possibility, if a slightly remote one.
He looks set to be a kind of sidekick to Sagaxus, though there is a good chance that he may be a character in his own right, as Nimbalo was. I would presume that he is a Salamandastrom hare and a childhood friend of Sagaxus. But perhaps I am letting the parralels with Mara and Pickle lead me down the wrong trail.
He is the sea otter I have previously refered to. I would guess he is young in the tale if you were to look at his ballad, which I believe will be in the first few pages of the book, like various other ballads:
"Were days that long, was grass so green,
Do you see what I mean? If the story is told as if it is being told by a character in the story, like in 'Mossflower', then there would be quite a large chance that it is he who is telling it. If I am correct, I would guess, from looking at the lyrics, that he is in the abbey orchard when he is telling it.
I know I did not mention them before, but, according to http://www.redwall.org, "a pair of wandering Dibbuns accidentally discover the long-lost entrance to Brockhall". It is probably a good guess that this pair are Sarabando and Bragoon, of the book coming after 'Triss', 'Loamhedge'. These dibbuns are most probably members of the DAB, which is said to be featured in 'Triss'.
We are lucky to know so much, so early on. From what we know so far 'Triss' looks to be a really good book and a worthy edition to the series. The more I hear of 'Triss' the more I wonder how all these characters can be fitted into the 400 pages suggested by the official site; let us hope character development has not been compromised.